Community Safety Initiative to Tackle Homelessness

26 Jun 2019

Hertfordshire Police and Stevenage Borough Council launched a new initiative titled Operation Urban on 18 May 2019 to tackle the issue of homelessness and crime in Stevenage.

Operation Urban seeks to act as a new strategic response in Stevenage by better connecting local services which combat homelessness, and the associated crime and anti-social behaviour.

The initiative aims to broaden the way the So-Safe Stevenage Community Safety Partnership tackles the issue of safeguarding vulnerable homeless people, while bringing uniformity to those who consistently commit crime and anti-social behaviour to avoid any rise in homelessness in Stevenage.

In line with the Homelessness Reduction Act, the multi-agency operation seeks to address the problem by better signposting to the Stevenage No-More service, and improving engagement with the homeless community.

Community Safety Partnership Teams on the ground will identify those who are involuntary homeless or intentionally homeless and then inform the council’s Community Safety and Housing Teams to track their progress.

Insp Simon Tabert of Hertfordshire Police said: “Dealing with the street homeless in Stevenage needs a multi-faceted approach because each person has a different set of complex issues. Operation Urban gives us this flexibility with the safety net of enforcement for those people who decline to work with us and help themselves.”

Operation Urban’s first patrol on 18 May identified four homeless individuals, two of whom are now being supported by the No More Service. The patrol was also involved in the arrest of a non-homeless person on suspicion of possession of drugs. Positive feedback was received by both community safety workers and homeless people alike. There are also future plans for further patrols following the success of the exercise.

Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, Cllr Sharon Taylor said: “Nobody should have to sleep rough, and that is why we must do all we can to help the most vulnerable in Stevenage and provide them with the support they need. This joint operation with the Police is a step in the right direction to tackle this important issue.”